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How to Travel With Your Dog

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French Bulldogs looking out the car window

Two dogs peer out the car window.

Photo © Stacy Andrew
If you are planning a trip, have you considered whether or not your dog gets to come along? Do you know how to travel with your dog? Traveling with your dog can be loads of fun if you make all the right arrangements. However, poor planning can really ruin the vacation for everyone. If you think it would be best for your dog to stay behind, then look for a pet sitter or find a kennel where you can board your dog. If you have decided that your furry companion should be part of your trip, let the planning begin. Start by keeping a collar with current identification on your dog at all times. A microchip may also be beneficial for extra security. Before you travel, your dog should have basic training so he will be well-behaved during the trip. Then, plan the transportation, accommodations and daily activities. Learning how to travel with your dog can make the experience less stressful and a lot of fun!


GETTING THERE

By Air

Air travel for dogs is not always a great idea. Though canines are not cargo to us pet parents, they are usually considered such by the airlines. The cargo hold does not make for a pleasant travel experience, even for relaxed dogs. This is not to say that flying is not an option, just that it is not ideal. Small dog owners are in luck, though. Some airlines will allow you to bring your pet in a carrier if it can fit under the seat in front of you. Learn the finer details of air travel with dogs so you can be fully informed before you book a flight.

Pet-loving entrepreneurs have been developing pet-friendly airlines that may actually be affordable. One such company is Pet Airways, a pet-only (no human passengers) airline that allows pets to fly in the main cabin rather than cargo. However, these flights are only available in a limited number of cities. Until these types of airlines are more accessible, many of us will have to make do with the rules or scrape up the dough to charter a plane.

By Automobile

The automobile is usually the best way to travel with dogs. If you own a vehicle, chances are your dog has ridden in it for trips to the vets, the park and so on. If not, now is the time to start. Some dogs have anxiety over riding in cars. The more positive your dog’s automobile experiences are, the more likely he will enjoy the rides. If your dog only rides in the car for vet visits, and he dislikes the vet, his anxiety is understandable. Try taking him for short, frequent car rides that end up at the park, dog supply store (where he will get a toy or treat), or another pleasant place. If your dog does not adjust to the car, then a road trip is not a good option. If you must bring your dog for a long car ride, ask your vet about possible anti-anxiety medications that can make the trip a bit easier on everyone. Otherwise, you should seek out other options. Remember, medications should be used sparingly.

If you’ve decided that Rover can handle the trip, make sure you make all the proper arrangements.

Plan Ahead

Plot rest stops along the way while traveling with your dog, and plan to stop every 3-5 hours to allow your dog to relieve himself, drink water and stretch his legs (more or less depending on your dog’s needs). Make a list of several veterinary hospitals that are easily accessible from your route, preferably within one hour’s drive from any given point. Check that they will be open during your travel.

Bring for the car ride:

ENJOYING YOUR STAY

Hotels and Dogs

If you will be staying at a hotel while traveling with your dog, cover all your bases in advance. A pet-friendly hotel is more than just one that allows pets – it is one that welcomes them. Some hotels offer special dog beds, turndown service (down to the treat on the pillow), dog spa services and doggie day care. Ask what amenities are available for your dog, but remember to find out what cost is involved. Many hotels charge a non-refundable pet deposit upon arrival, then a daily pet fee. Some even tack on a special cleaning fee. Bottom line, before you choose, do your research about pet-friendly hotels.

Bed and Breakfast / Inns for Dogs

Inns and B&Bs are typically not equipped for dogs. However, they do exist. It is essential that you know how to prepare for the trip prior to finalizing your plans. Learn about bringing your dog to a B&B, then look for a dog-friendly location.

Camping with Dogs

Camping with your dog can be the perfect way to spend time together while communing with nature. However, camping with dogs is not always a wise choice. Before you decide to bring your dog, make sure the campground you are considering actually allows dogs. Many state and national parks do not allow dogs. Above all, learn how to have fun and stay safe while camping.

BE PREPARED

Emergencies do not only happen close to home, they can also happen while traveling with your dog. Advance planning can make these emergencies less stressful. Before the trip, make a list of veterinary hospitals in the area where you will be staying, along with a map. If your dog shows sudden signs of illness, that list can help save your dog’s life. Before you leave for your trip, make sure you have not forgotten anything. Use this list as a guide while you are packing. Add your own personal touch as needed.
  1. Lists of rest stops and veterinary hospitals along your trip (if driving)
  2. List of veterinary hospitals near the location where you are staying
  3. Crate / kennel
  4. Leash
  5. Water and Bowls
  6. Dog Food
  7. Treats
  8. One or two toys
  9. Blankets and/or dog bed
  10. Bags to pick up waste
  11. First Aid Kit
  12. Grooming supplies, if necessary
  13. Medications, if applicable
  14. Your dog’s medical records (including vaccine history)
  15. Health Certificate (obtain from your vet)
Now you’re all set – be safe and enjoy your trip!
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